My Week in Books (7/17/19)

(#partner #freebooks: All books noted by asterisks (***) indicate I received the book for free from the publisher, the author, or another promotional company to review. All opinions are my own.)
(Full Disclosure: If you decide to purchase a book through the Amazon link, I will receive a small compensation from that purchase. Thank you!)

Does it even feel like summer to any of you? In my mind, summer is supposed to be relaxed and carefree, but whatever reason, all my family has been doing so far is running, running, running. It’s hard to even catch a breath!

Thank goodness a book can go with me everywhere I have to go!

This week has been a GREAT week for reading!

What have you been reading (and loving) this week?

Last Week’s Reads:Screen Shot 2019-07-16 at 8.59.16 AM*** Waiting for Tom Hanks by: Kerry Winfrey (Berkley) – Pub Date: June 11, 2019

This one is adorable! Again, not my preferred genre, but I saw this one all over #bookstagram with rave reviews, so I gave it a shot…and I’m glad I did! This is the perfect summer read – quick, sweet, and adorable. It reminds me of a few other books I’ve read this year in the same genre and loved just as much: The Flatshare, The Unhoneymooners and The Girl He Used To Know, and The Beantown Girls.

*** American Predator: The Hunt for the Most Meticulous Serial Killer of the 21st Century by: Maureen Callahan (Viking) – Pub Date: July 2, 2019

Holy cow! What the heck did I just read? This was one intense look into a virtually unknown serial killer after he was finally arrested for killing an eighteen-year-old in Alaska. What unraveled was shocking and spine-tingling. Fans of I’ll Be Gone in the Dark will love this one – and dare I say, this one was so much more well done?!

*** The Lager Queen of Minnesota by: J. Ryan Stradal (Pamela Dorman Books) – On Shelves: July 23, 2019

Annie B. Jones has already mentioned how good this one is, so I knew I wanted to give it a try. I could not put this one down! I loved it so much; it’s such a sweet story with characters that I won’t soon forget. You don’t need to know a single thing about beer (or brewing beer)  to appreciate this story.

Internment by: Samira Ahmed (Little, Brown) – Pub Date: March 19, 2019

This was quite the timely read given what’s currently going on at the borders of Mexico. In this fictional account, set “15 minutes in the future”, Layla and her parents are taken to an internment camp in the middle of a dessert. After the president declared all Muslims to be “enemies of America”, he then had them rounded up and put in camps. But Layla and her new friends aren’t going down without a fight. They secretly come up with several resistance plans in order to gain back their freedom. 

Currently Reading:Screen Shot 2019-07-16 at 9.04.51 AMAmericanah by: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Anchor Books) – Pub Date: May 14, 2013

I’ve had this book on my #tbr list for years now…yes, I even carried it all the way to Mexico with me on vacation once – and still never read it. I forced myself to ignore ARC responsibilities and picked this one up. It’s one of those books that has great reviews and is always followed with “I love that book!” or “That’s totally a must-read book!” I’m not even halfway through and though it’s a densely packed book, I’m enjoying getting an in-depth look into these characters.

🎧 *** Whisper Network by: Chandler Baker (Flatiron) – Pub Date: July 2, 2019

This one is Reece Witherspoon’s Book Club pick for July. I decided to try this one on audio because I needed a new audiobook and because I’m participating in the Summer Listening Challenge! (If you’d also like to participate, follow the link and download your tracking log. Also, if you’re not a member yet, use my promo code: HAPPIEST to get 3-for-1 audiobooks!)

🎧 *** Daisy Jones and The Six by: Taylor Jenkins Reid (Ballantine) – Pub Date: March 5, 2019

Loved this one when I read it in hardback, but I had #fomo when everyone raved about how good the audiobook was. I’ve been listening to this one off-and-on for the past week and I’m loving the various actors!

*** Wild Words: Rituals, Routines, and Rhythms for Braving the Writer’s Path by: Nicole Gulotta (Roost Books) – On Shelves: October 15, 2019

Still { s l o w l y } making my way through this one! I like it, it’s just not a page turner for me!


Three Women


Three Women is THE book of the summer; it’s literally everywhere! So far the reviews have been overwhelmingly positive, so it’s with a great amount of hesitation that I am here to say – on record – that it just wasn’t that revolutionary for me. 🤷🏼‍♀️ I think my expectations were completely off…if it would have been like I thought it was going to be heading in, it promised to be not only one of the best books of the year, but of all-time. Sadly, it fell extremely short of my expectations, and it truly bummed me out.

What I did love about this book was Taddeo’s writing. It’s off-the-charts fantastic (though some of her metaphors were a bit of a stretch) and for that reason alone, I think you should read this one. She took a fairly taboo nonfiction topic (women’s sexuality and desires) and made it read like a page-turning fictional novel. I was immersed in each of these women, though I definitely cared the most about Maggie’s story. Again, for Maggie’s story alone, I encourage you to read this book!

I was enflamed with the way Maggie was treated by a person in a position of trust and the way her community hung her out to dry. The repercussions to her life were far-reaching and she is still dealing with them today. I hope the publicity of this book forces the people – especially the school district of Sheyenne High School – where Aaron Knodel is currently employed.

Other than those two things, the rest of the book didn’t do much for me. I’m very confused as to what Taddeo’s thesis was…the reviews and articles I’ve read make me feel like she was trying to teach us to not judge other women and the decisions they make – specifically, the sexual choices she makes – but that did not come through clearly to me at all! With the exception of Maggie, I didn’t feel connected or sympathetic or enlightened by either Lina’s or Sloane’s stories. They ultimately just distracted me from the only story I really cared about – Maggie’s.

There were parts of each woman’s story that I could relate to, but they are fleeting examples and I truly just feel like I’m grasping for any straw to feel a connection to these women. Lina’s affair felt like justification for her lack of sexual attention from her husband, and while I’m not supposed to judge that decision, I also cannot just gloss over her behavior towards herself, her husband, or her lover’s wife and children. As a society, we’ve never allowed a man to justify his behavior, so why should women be allowed to? Poor Lina has a long list of issues that would be best served with some therapy, and not allowing her self-worth to be determined by some guy from high school.

Sloane’s story is the one that stuck with me the least. She just feels like a privileged white women who demands a lot of attention to fuel her self-worth. I saw such a lack of depth in her character and her story. I felt sorry for the wife of her lover and felt her inability to give the wife the answers she asked for was cowardly and turned me off from her entirely.

Overall, out of the thousands of women she interviewed, I am surprised that these three – actually, two – were the ones Taddeo chose to highlight. I would have assumed there was much more depth and complexity and enlightenment in other women’s stories.

To be fair to this book, here is a link to an article written by Stephanie Danler. She loved this book and wrote quite an insightful and well-thought out review.



My Week in Books (7/10/19)

(#partner #freebooks: All books noted by asterisks (***) indicate I received the book for free from the publisher, the author, or another promotional company to review. All opinions are my own.)


After what felt like a slow start to July, we’re suddenly already to the middle of it! I blinked and here we are! My kids start school again in just 30 days and my mind is blown! I sort of feel like we haven’t really had a summer and I think the cooler temps of June are to blame for that. It’s been a weird summer, and sadly, it’s almost over.

Do you have any last minute summer vacations planned?

Last Week’s Reads:Screen Shot 2019-07-09 at 5.07.54 PMThe Editor by: Steven Rowley (Putnam) – Pub Date: April 2, 2019

I was so pleasantly surprised by this one. I had no idea that Jackie O was an editor, so after finding this out, I went down the internet rabbit hole and tried to learn more about her fascinating life. (I wrote a fuller review here.) I enjoyed Rowley’s writing style and learning about the book publishing process. I’ve seen lots of mixed reviews for this one, but I fell solidly on the side of love and enjoyment!

*** A Year Without a Name by: Cyrus Grace Dunham (Little, Brown & Company) – On Shelves: October 15, 2019

Don’t let the small size of this book fool you! It’s not long but it’s packed. It didn’t take much time before I was reaching for my pen to underline ALL THE LINES. Sadly, it’s not out until October (2019), but it’s definitely worth the wait!

*** The Gifted School by: Bruce Holsinger (Riverhead) – Pub Date: July 2, 2019

I definitely am not as crazy about this book as the rest of #bookstagram seems to be, but I did enjoy it. With Big Little Lies and Gossip Girl vibes, it was a highly entertaining ride! It dragged on a little long for me and I struggled to finish. Also, I really didn’t prefer the ending…it left me a little dissatisfied. 

*** The Chain by: Adrian McKinty (Mulholland Books) – Pub Date: July 9, 2019

Holy moly…what did I just read?!?! Remember those chain letters when you were a little kid? They always ended with the threat that if you’re the one to break the chain, dire consequences would happen. Now imagine this same concept where you have to kidnap a kid in order to get your kidnapped kid back! It’s intense and so much better than I was expecting! I read this one in a day and literally had the hardest time putting it down. I think it’s the perfect summer thriller!

Three Women by: Lisa Taddeo (Avid Reader Press) – Pub Date: July 9, 2019

This seems to be the IT book of the summer. I was happy to get a copy through my Book of the Month subscription (sign up here, if you haven’t done so already! It really is one of my favorite bookish treats to myself each month!). I finished this one yesterday, and there’s a lot I need to wrap my brain around before I can be truly honest about my feelings. (Warning: graphic sexual content) #reviewtocome

Currently Reading:Screen Shot 2019-07-09 at 5.25.17 PM

*** Waiting for Tom Hanks by: Kerry Winfrey (Berkley) – Pub Date: June 11, 2019

#bookstagrammademedoit! This one is everywhere and after the heaviness of Three Women, I’m ready for something a little less intense. These aren’t always my go-to genre, but every now and again, I enjoy a book from this category (most recently, The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary, my review here).

*** Wild Words: Rituals, Routines, and Rhythms for Braving the Writer’s Path by: Nicole Gulotta (Roost Books) – On Shelves: October 15, 2019

Still { s l o w l y } making my way through this one! I like it, it’s just not a page turner for me!

DNF:Screen Shot 2019-07-09 at 5.28.54 PMNaturally Tan by: Tan France (St. Martin’s Press) – Pub Date: June 4, 2019

I saw multiple rave reviews of this one, but Tan just kept coming across as pretentious to me. I didn’t enjoy his voice at all and ended up DNFing it.

*** Star-Crossed by: Minnie Darke (Crown) – Pub Date: May 21, 2019

I think this one could have potential, but it was taking more brain power than I was interested in investing to understand the astrology verbiage associated with each character.

What did you read last week?

Best Books of 2019…so far! #halfwaytopten


I’d be lying if I didn’t say I had a blast putting together my #halfwaytopten! Without further ado, here’s the official list (in no particular order)!

If You Want To Make God Laugh by: Bianca Marais

City of Girls by: Elizabeth Gilbert

Sissy: A Coming-of-Gender Story by: Jacob Tobias

I Miss You When I Blink by: Mary Laura Philpott

A People’s History of Heaven by: Mathangi Subramanian

Daisy Jones and The Six by: Taylor Jenkins Reid

A Woman is No Man by: Etaf Rum

The Last Romantics by: Tara Conklin

Golden Child by: Claire Adam

The Flatshare by: Beth O’Leary


The list above only includes book published this year…so I thought I’d add my favorite books by month. It looks similar, except two backlist books made it onto the list.


My favorite reads of 2019 by month:

January: We Were the Lucky Ones by: Georgia Hunter

February: The Last Romantics by: Tara Conklin

March: Daisy Jones and The Six by: Taylor Jenkins Reid

April: Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life From Dear Sugar by: Cheryl Strayd

May: City of Girls by: Elizabeth Gilbert

June: If You Want To Make God Laugh by: Bianca Marais

What’s been some of your favorite reads so far this year?

July Book Club Read Alongs

Do you enjoy read alongs as much as I do? One of the reasons I started a #bookstagram account (you can find me here) in the first place is because I wanted a place to discuss great books! Since being a part of this amazing corner of the internet, I’ve found several great book clubs! If you know of other book clubs that I missed, please drop me a comment below!

Here is a roundup of July Book Club Read Alongs:

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📷 Photo cred: @reecesbookclubxhellosunshine

Reece’s Book Club (Celebrating Women’s Stories)

(curated by Reece Witherspoon)

Whisper Network by: Chandler Baker (Flatiron) – Pub Date: July 2, 2019



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📷 Photo Cred: @readwithjenna

Read With Jenna

(curated by Jenna Bush Hager)

Evvie Drake Starts Over by: Linda Holmes (Ballantine Books) – Pub Date: June 25, 2019



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📷 Photo Cred: @spiveysbookclub

Spivey’s Book Club

(curated by Ashley Spivey)

Recursion by: Blake Crouch (Crown) – Pub Date: June 11, 2019



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📷 Photo Cred: @saltwaterreads

Salt Water Reads

(curated by Stacey of Prose and Palate and Kourtney of Kourtney’s Bookshelf)

The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by: Abbi Waxman (Berkley) – Pub Date: July 9, 2019



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📷 Photo Cred: @basicbsguide

Girls Like Us Read

(curated by Katie of Basicbsguide and Jamie of Read With Jamie)

Girls Like Us by: Cristina Alger (Putnam) – Pub Date: July 2, 2019



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📷 Photo Cred: @worldswithinpages

Worlds Within Pages Read Along

(curated by Alisa of Worlds Within Pages)

City of Girls by: Elizabeth Gilbert (Riverhead) – Pub Date: June 4, 2019



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📷 Photo Cred: @nonfictionwomen

Non-Fiction Women (Women Authors of Non-Fiction)

(curated by Kate of Kate Olson Reads and RuthAnn of Definitelyra)

Something New: Tales from a Makeshift Bride by: Lucy Knisley (First Second) – Pub Date: May 3, 2016



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📷 Photo Cred: @thestackspod

The Stacks Book Club

(curated by Traci of bitracial and The Lady Gang)

July 3: Jesus’ Son by: Denis Johnson (Picador) – Pub Date: February 17, 2009)

July 17: Miracle Creek by: Angie Kim (Sarah Crichton Books) – Pub Date: April 16, 2019

July 31: WorkParty: How to Create & Cultivate the Career of Your Dreams by: Jaclyn Johnson (Gallery Books) – Pub Date: August 21, 2018)



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📷 Photo Cred: @diversespines

Diverse Spines (Women of Color Authors)

(curated by SpinesVines)

The Affairs of the Falcóns by: Melissa Rivers (ECCO) – Pub Date: April 2, 2019



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📷 Photo Cred: @readwithtoni

#ReadWithToni Monthly Buddy Read

(curated by Toni of Read With Toni)

All the Ugly and Wonderful Things by: Bryn Greenwood (Thomas Dunne Books) – Pub Date: August 9, 2016



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📷 Photo Cred: @book_girl_magic

Book Girl Magic, LLC (Celebrating black women through literature)

(curated by Renée Amanda of It’s Renee Amanda)

Waiting to Exhale by: Terry McMillan (NAL) – Pub Date: May 28, 1992



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📷 Photo Cred: @diverseclassics

Diverse Classics (Highlighting underrepresented voices in classic literature)

The Kite Runner by: Khaled Hosseini (Riverhead) – Pub Date: May 29, 2003



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📷 Photo Cred: @throwbookclub

Throw Book Club (Backlist Books)

(curated by Jordan of Jordy’s Book Club and Jamie of Beauty and the Book)

The Song of Achilles by: Madeline Miller (ECCO) – Pub Date: August 28, 2012



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📷 Photo Cred: @thebooklyclub

The Bookly Club

(curated by Katie Cragwall and three other Katherines!)

Call Them by Their True Names: American Crises by: Rebecca Solnit (Haymarket Books) – Pub Date: September 11, 2018



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📷 Photo Cred: @pagesagobookclub

Pages Ago Book Club (Historical Fiction)

(curated by Jessi of Jessi’s Library and Megan of Megan’s Always Reading)

The Stationary Shop by: Marjan Kamali (Gallery Books) – Pub Date: June 18, 2019



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📷 Photo Cred: @blessyourheartbookclub

Bless Your Heart Book Club (Highlighting Southern voice, writing, and setting)

(curated by Deb of Lone Star Words and Amy of The Southern Girl Reads)

Leaving Atlanta by: Tayari Jones (Grand Central Publishing) – Pub Date: January 1, 2002



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📷 Photo Cred: @words.between.worlds

Words Between Worlds (Stories from Marginalized Voices)

(curated by Haley of My Little Booktique, Diana of Owls Little Library, Simon of Simone and Her Books, and others)

When We Left Cuba by: Chanel Cleeton (Berkley) – Pub Date: April 9, 2019



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📷 Photo Cred: @badonpaperpodcast

Bad on Paper Podcast

(curated by Grace Atwood and Becca Freeman)

American Spy by: Lauren Wilkinson (Random House) – Pub Date: February 12, 2019



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📷 Photo Cred: @booksandchinooks

Northern Lights Reads (A Canadian-based Book Club)

(curated by Candice of Candice Reads and Laurie of Books and Chinooks)

The Last Resort by: Marissa Stapley (Graydon House) – Pub Date: June 18, 2019


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📷 Photo Cred: @criminallygoodbookclub

Criminally Good Book Club (Crime-focused Book Club)

(curated by Janel of Keeper of Pages and Ashley of B00ks in Paradise)

The Puppet Show by: M.W. Craven (Constable) – Pub Date: June 7, 2018



Are you reading along with any of these? Did I miss any good book clubs?


The Editor


The Editor by Steven Rowley
Publisher: G. P. Putnam’s Sons
Pub Date: April 2, 2019
Length: 320 pages

Brief Synopsis:

After years of struggling to publish a book, James Smale finally sells his autobiographical novel to an editor – Mrs. Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis! Mrs. Onassis guides Smale through the editing process, and in an effort to find the book’s ending, she also steers Smale back to a reconciled relationship with his mother.

My Thoughts:

I immediately became fascinated with this story as soon as Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis was introduced. In fact, I stopped reading for awhile and fell down a rabbit hole of internet research to explore the life of Mrs. O. (Here are the two main articles I read: Vanity Fair and Town and Country Magazine.) I wasn’t alive during the JFK presidency or assassination, but as an American, the story of Camelot and the Kennedys is something I grew up enamored by. As I read The Editor though, it quickly became obvious to me that I knew absolutely nothing about Jacqueline’s background beyond her fashion sense.

After President Kennedy was assassinated, Jackie quickly disappeared from public life. Only 41 years old when she was widowed, she had very young children to take care of. She eventually accepted a position with Viking Press as an editor and her starting salary was $200 per week. After a controversial book regarding the futuristic assassination of Robert Kennedy was published, Jackie quietly resigned from Viking and moved over to Doubleday Publishing. There, the books she acquired reflected her interests in culture, history, and art. She eventually edited over 100 books over her 19 year career. She passed away in May 1994 from Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in New York City.

I love novels about complicated family dynamics, and more specifically, stories about mothers and their children. I understand now, more than ever, that all relationships are complicated, but none more so than that of a mother’s to her children. We expect our mothers to be perfect and to live gracefully on top of the pedestal we put them on, but the reality is that they are flawed and complicated and confused just like the rest of us. Ultimately, we’re all just doing the best we can with what we have at the time, but as a mother, we’re not always granted that grace or acceptance.

I loved the dynamic that played out between James and his mother throughout the book. Using the editing process as the background for the journey, Rowley actually portrays the road to acceptance and forgiveness. When stories and secrets shape your life, there is bound to be a transformation when they eventually come out. We could only hope our story of forgiveness would heal and transform us as beautifully as it did for James and his mom.

The Editor does a lovely job of weaving Jacqueline Kennedy throughout the story without letting her take it over. Her simple persuasion is felt throughout – and while there’s no way of knowing how accurately this portrayed her editor role in real life – Steven Rowley does a beautiful job with finding that balance.

I’m not sure what I was expecting from this one, but it pleasantly surprised me. I thoroughly enjoyed it and hope you will too!

Kaytee (from the Currently Reading Podcast) recently recommended this book on Episode 16 of Sarah’s Book Shelves podcast (download and listen to the episode here).




My Week in Books (7/3/19)

(#partner #freebooks: All books noted by asterisks (***) indicate I received the book for free from the publisher, the author, or another promotional company to review. All opinions are my own.)

Last week I was a guest on Sarah’s Book Shelves podcast where we talked about the books of 2019 that were the most deserving of the hype, least deserving of the hype, and the hidden gems…so far. (You can download and listen to the episode here!)

2019 Mid-Year Check-In - Podcast Episode - Facebook 1200

On that episode, I made the comment that I have had an incredible reading year and I’ve not really had a reading slump. Y’all know what I’m about to say, right?! Since then, I have been in a major slump…I’m DNFing books left and right and not really connecting with anything I’m reading.

I’ve forgotten how frustrating reading slumps are!

I’m crossing my fingers I’ve that this week my reading life turns around! New week, new month, new start, yes?

On that note, send me any book recommendations that will help me beat this slump!

Last Week’s Reads:

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*** Searching for Sylvie Lee by: Jean Kwok (William Morrow) – Pub Date: June 4, 2019

I love Summer Reading Guides and this book was part of Modern Mrs Darcy Summer Reading. I wanted to love this one, but it fell very flat for me. I was bored and probably really should have DNF’d it, but I was curious what the heck happened to Sylvie. #IdRatherBeReading #summerstooshort

Currently Reading:

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The Editor by: Steven Rowley (Putnam) – Pub Date: April 2, 2019

Just started so it’s too soon to tell! I’ve seen a lot of mixed reviews, but my trusted sources all seem to lean more towards liking it. Also, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis?! Yes, please!

*** Wild Words: Rituals, Routines, and Rhythms for Braving the Writer’s Path by: Nicole Gulotta (Roost Books) – On Shelves: October 15, 2019

This is going to be a slower read for me, as I really only read it in the morning – a chapter or two at a time. I have been a subscriber to Gulotta’s newsletter for awhile and I really enjoy her writing.

*** A Year Without a Name by: Cyrus Grace Dunham (Little, Brown & Company) – On Shelves: October 15, 2019

Don’t let the small size of this book fool you! It’s not long but it’s packed. It didn’t take much time before I was reaching for my pen to underline ALL THE LINES. I gotta wait to finish this one when I can tune everything else out and really focus.


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Ayesha At Last by: Uzma Jalaluddin (Berkley) – Pub Date: June 4, 2019

I gave it a valiant effort, but I just couldn’t get into this one. I think because I read (and enjoyed) Unmarraigeable earlier this year, it made it harder to get invested in Jalaluddin’s version. Many others have read and loved this one, so seek out more reviews before taking my word for it. (This was another Modern Mrs Darcy Summer Reading pick. #IdRatherBeReading #summerstooshort)

*** The Body in Question by: Jill Ciment (Pantheon) – Pub Date: June 11, 2019

Literally some of my most trusted reading sources (Annie B. Jones and Sarah’s Book Shelves) loved this one! (It’s on Sarah’s Summer Reading Guide.) I don’t understand why. 🤷🏼‍♀️ But that’s ok…different books for different folks. I read almost 60% of this one and just could not force myself to read another page. 

What did you read last week?